1937, Howard loaned the skull to Mr. David Phoenix, a local
Laguna Beach Geologist, to take with him to Santa Barbara. Mr.
Phoenix was attending a geological seminar there, and he agreed
to set aside some time to take it over to the Santa Barbara
Natural History Museum for analysis.
Dr. David Banks Rogers, the Director of the Museum, inspected
the skull and immediately became excited with what he was holding.
He recognized it as exactly what the museum had been looking
for for many years! He felt it was the "missing link"
in a long chain of evidence of prehistoric man on the California
coast that the Museum had been carefully gathering. He said
it was definitely a specimen of the "Oak Grove People",
a type of man that inhabited the California coast long before
the present day Indians that were here when the Spanish came
Dr. Banks noted that the shape of the skull, being so small
in measurement, with it's barely perceptible rise from the eye
sockets upward, and the unusual flatness at the top of the skull
so different from that of modern coastal Indians, confirmed
Archeologists theory's that these people were short, blocky,
and small in stature.
Los Angeles Times - 1937
Click on image to see full-size
The Archeologists had already surmised this from many subtle
clues gleaned from archeological excavations. He said that from
what they had found, they were poor hunters of big game, and
ate great quantities of seafood and acorns...hence the name
"Oak Grove". Although the scientists had found remnants
of primitive baskets, and rather crudely made arrow points,
they appeared to not have any knowledge of the art of pottery
Now the news of the find hit the newspapers. It became the
topic of much conversation within the town of Laguna, and great
interest and debate by the archeological community in California.
Everyone wanted to get a look at the skull, and Howard was invited
to many a meeting in the area to bring the skull for the locals
to "ooh and aah" over, and for scientists to puzzle
over and ponder.
Of course, Grace Wilson still had her doubts about having an
old skull in her house, and all the fuss didn't ease her concerns
one bit. She had occasionally tossed the skull in the trash
after Howard first brought it home.
When he would discover it missing, Howard knew what had happened
and he would quickly fish it out of the trash can again, and
replace it on the shelf in his closet without saying anything
about it. He knew it was a sensitive subject with Grace, and
he didn't want to make matters any worse.
But now - after this public fuss and all - Grace knew she couldn't
toss it out again. She finally had come to an understanding
with the situation. She may not like the skull being in her
house, but since the scientists thought it was important,
it could now stay for good. Howard knew it too, and he felt
relieved that his prize would not end up in the garbage dump
again if he went away for a while!